Art Colleges

Below you will find the top colleges for Art Education degrees in the United States, Seven reasons you should go to art school and finally a long list of career options for those who posses an art degree!  Do you have an interesting article on Art colleges and careers?  Please send it to us at k12artlessonplans [at]!

Top colleges for Art Education degrees in the United States:

Maryland Institute College of Art, Baltimore, Maryland

  • Accreditation: Middle State Association of College & Schools Commission on Higher Education, National Association of Schools of Art & Design
  • $29,700 for one full year
  • Recent visiting artists: David Byrne, Odd Nerdrum, Ben Katchor, Barry Levinson, Ishmael Reed.
  • This writer is biased toward this school as both grandfathers attended when it was a drafting school, and this writer graduated from MICA in 1988. This art school is considered somewhat traditional in that it stresses learning to draw academically from nude models and life. This top notch art education will give you the problem-solving skills and discipline you need to conquer the world and find a job. MICA also cares about artists learning to write and has an incredible English Department faculty who will teach you how to write like a pro. Visit MICA to see if this funky, urban campus is for you.

Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, Rhode Island

  • While this is the priciest school on the list, RISD also has the best reputation, especially as a school for industrial designers.
  • $32,858 for one full year
  • Recent visiting artists: Alexander Isley, Joyce Scott, James Rosenquist
  • Accreditation: American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA), National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB), National Association of Schools of Art & Design (NASAD), National Association of State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification (NASDTEC), New England Association of Schools & Colleges (NEASC)

Cleveland Institute of Art, Cleveland, Ohio

  • This art school was originally named the Western Reserve School of Design for Women.
  • Recent visiting artists: Joyce Scott, Dale Chihuly, Mark Olitsky, Moe Brooker, Sam Gilliam, Elizabeth Murray
  • $28,100 for one full year
  • Accreditation: North Central Association of Colleges and Schools and the National Association of Schools of Art and Design and is also a member of the Association of Independent Colleges of Art and Design and the Northeast Ohio Council on Higher Education.

Kansas City Art Institute, Kansas City, Missouri

  • Some of this art school’s famous attendees include the animator Walt Disney and painter Robert Rauschenberg.
  • Recent visiting artists: Chip Kidd, Marilyn Stokstad
  • $27,220 for one full year
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission, a commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools and by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design.

School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois

  • Notable alumni of this art school include Thomas Hart Benton, Leon Golub, Edward Gorey, Halston, Hugh Hefner, Jeff Koons, Bill Mauldin, Elizabeth Murray, Joan Mitchell, Georgia O’Keefe, Klaes Oldenburg, and Grant Wood.
  • Recent visiting artists: Jim Elkins, Vito Acconci, Enzo Mari
  • $32,550 for one full year
  • Accreditation: North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, National Association of Schools of Art and Design. The School’s Art Education program is certified by the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE), and shares reciprocity with most states in the United States. Its Art Therapy program is approved by the Education and Approval Board of the American Art Therapy Association.

Otis College of Art and Design, Los Angeles, California

  • Distinguished alumni include: Edith Head, Philip Guston and Robert Irwin.
  • Recent visiting artists: Dave Hickey, Marsha TuckerAccreditation: The Accrediting Commission for Senior Colleges and Universities of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, The National Association of Schools of Art and Design.
  • $28,346 for one full year

California College of the Arts, San Francisco, California

  • Notable alumni include Manuel Neri and Robert Arneson.
  • Recent visiting artists: Hans Haacke, Catherine Wagner, Chip Lord, Amy Balkin, Yvonne Rainer
  • Accreditation: Western Association of Schools and Colleges, National Association of Schools of Art and Design, the National Architectural Accrediting Board, and the Council for Interior Design Accreditation.
  • $29,280 for one full year

Tyler School of Art, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

  • Recent visiting artists: Robert Colescott, Alexander Isley, James Elkins, Lisa Yuskavage and Vito Aconcci.
  • Accreditation: National Association of Schools of Art and Design and the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools. The Architecture Program is accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board.
  • $22,270 out of state
  • $12,398 in state
  • Tyler School of Art is the bargain on this list, and also is a part of Temple University.

Corcoran College of Art and Design, Washington DC

  • Recent visiting artists: Sam Gilliam, Larry Fink
  • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education
  • $25,890 for one full year
  • The Corcoran Gallery of Art is a fine museum amongst a sea of fine museums in Washington DC.

Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, New York

  • Notable alumni include Dave Berg (Cartoonist for Mad Magazine), Jules Feiffer, Eva Hesse, Robert Mapplethorpe, George Lois, Harvey Fierstein, Ellsworth Kelly, Peter Max, Beverly Pepper, Paul Rand, Robert Redford Robert Sabuda, Max Weber and Rob Zombie.
  • Accreditation: Commission on Higher Education of the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools, the National Association of Schools of Art and Design, the Foundation for Interior Design Education Research, and the National Architectural Accreditation Board.
  • $29,900 for one full year

Seven Reasons to go to Art School...

1. Learning.
Is it actually possible to believe that people get a higher education just to get a piece of paper that says they know something they could have learned on their own? What kind of hippie reactionism is that? We go to school to learn, people, not because someone is forcing us to, but because we care about our field, want to know everything we can about it, and actually improve in it! Here are a few things about learning:
:pointr: There is a lot to learn, about many media and within each medium, conceptually and technically. And no better place to find it all concentrated than a good art/design school.
:pointr: You will never learn as much on your own as you will learn in school. Never. You are one brain where school offers you many, and you only have one life where school allows you start from the sum of knowledge amassed by many masters over many lives. If you insist on spending 10 years learning something you could have learned in one course in school, that’s your funeral. Other people are more interested in exploring something new than in reinventing the wheel.
:pointr: Moreover, and I see this in every amateur on this site and elsewhere, in every first year student: you have no idea how little you know until you enter the major. So it’s not like you can look up everything on your own: there are things you don’t even know you should look up. You wouldn’t question the necessity to go to engineering school, yet you can find written material about every aspect of it. Not so with the arts, where much of the teaching is subtle and can be only transmitted indirectly (you can’t be taught to design, you can only be guided towards it). Yet you don’t think a structured training is necessary for a discipline that can’t be pinned on paper?
:pointr: In school you do not only learn. You become. The curriculum deconstructs the way you think and reconstructs your mind for the purpose of art. That is what sets a professional apart from an amateur. An amateur will always be “doing art”. A professional is hardwired for it. It’s not something you can even comprehend until you’ve been through it. That’s what a formation is about.

2. Discipline.
Discipline is not self-imposed. It must be imposed from the outside. You’d have to be exceptionally iron-willed to put yourself through what we go through in school: the endless readings, the tight deadlines, the projects you really don’t feel like working on, the redos that drive you nuts, the competition, the overnights, the imposed subjects, etc. I don’t think it’s humanly possible. I’m extremely disciplined and driven, yet after I graduated, and despite really wanting to, I never once re-read the school notes I had promised myself to read. And so one misses out. Self-taught people have the natural tendency to go straight for what they want to learn. They don’t take sidetrips. But it is the sidetrips that feed your skill and give you an edge. An elective in psychology for instance can inject wonders into your work.

I see some very skilled self-taught artists with one large weakness that betrays the fact they received no education: they can only do one thing. They have one style, one medium. They may be very good but it gets boring for everyone, it gets outfashioned quickly, and it’s a dangerous situation on a professional level. An art career, or a freelance design career, is a gamble: you make it safer by being versatile and able to answer any commission. Such versatility comes from being forced to do things you would not choose to do on your own, and exposed to ideas you would normally not be interested in. Think about it next time you turn up your nose at a teacher that forces you to step away from your cherished style…

3. Mentoring.
If you think getting feedback helps you improve, imagine getting monitored and mentored daily by experienced, active professionals who can spot your weaknesses and know how to make you work through them. People who can evaluate your work not based on personal preference, nor even solely against a set of art principles, but in the context of the past and current art scene. Who can train your mind alongside your skills and show you how to marry concept and execution. Whose contacts in the real world can take you far. Who can force you to create a future for yourself with your skills instead of wasting them on something that will never get you anywhere in life. Or did you really think college teachers are just fossils that they keep around to keep anime drawers out?

4. Exchange.
Taking classes implies classmates. Setting aside how much more fun it is when you have road companions, think of them as extensions to your creativity. They are the ones who will come up with stuff you would never have thought of, and vice-versa. They’re the ones who will look at your work and, empowered by their intimate acquaintance with it (after the first couple of years, you’ll be able to spot each other’s style a mile off, for life), suggest fixes or give you wild ideas, to complement the more realistic approach of the teachers. They’re the ones who make the learning and experimenting fun and the worst chores (like creating a Munsell solid) bearable. You will learn from their mistakes and from their successes, and you can experiment on them, as well as enroll their help when in dire need of extra arms.

5. Connections.
During your scholarship, you will participate in workshops, attend lectures, go on field trips, be sent on internships, enter department-wide or nationwide competitions, meet professionals, handle small freelance jobs. By the time you graduate, you will have a foot in design circles, a useful list of connections, and enough professionals should have heard your name to give you a start in your career. People in art school typically don’t have to worry about ending up jobless.

6. Credibility
Potential employers rarely ask to see a degree. They prick up their ears, though, at the mention of your school, especially if it’s a reputable one. Here’s what the fact you graduated from art school tells them on the spot:
:pointr: Your skills have been tested and recognised by art professionals, who will vouch for you upon request.
:pointr: You are familiar with the workings of the system and the details it is your job to know.
:pointr: You can make a deadline.
:pointr: You can work under pressure.
:pointr: You have professional standards for quality and pricing.
:pointr: You can do the best job for them their money can buy

And so on.

Someone without an official education is at a disadvantage, because no client wants to invest time into verifying all the above about you, as they would have to do since nobody else can vouch for you (unless you come in with a letter of recommendation from someone reputable, but how are you going to reach such a person in the first place if you’re not introduced by the school body?) An amazing portfolio may not be enough, because the other factors (speed, reliability etc) are just as important. They may choose to take the chance, but they won’t pay you the same. Very few people will pay professional rates to someone untrained, because for that amount of money they can hire someone with much more credibility. See the catch? You may end up spending your life doing mediocre jobs for cheap clients. Your chances of breaking into the higher circles, where the best in art and design take place, are slim at best if you’re on your own.

7. Equipment.
Where else are you going to be able to experiment with so many media without spending a fortune? Our design (not even art) department put at our disposal, to name a few, work spaces, fully equipped etching and silkscreen rooms, a photo lab, a computer lab, projectors, digital cameras when they were not so readily available, and, of course, an enormous library. We also got student discounts on art supplies and printing services.
I can think of more, but 7 is a good number to end at.

In conclusion, here’s a suggestion to those who seek advice on the forums: Don’t. When something may potentially determine your path in life, you should ask only people you can trust. People who have been there and can respond based on solid personal experience. I see too many deviants responding with the completely cliché and shallow “you don’t need a degree,all that matters is your skill” while they are not even of age to go to art school yet. Do you look up the info of those who give you such advice, to make sure they are actually over 13 and have a clue what they’re saying? You should. As for the advice-givers: unless you are an art student with some insights to share, or better yet a successful professional with solid arguments to contribute on either side, show some responsibility and abstain. Whether you’re well-meaning and naive or plain arrogant, you are causing more harm than good.


Accessory Designer
Advertising Director
Aerial Photographer
Airbrush Artist
Antique Specialist
Appliqué Artist
Architectural Graphic Artist
Architectural Writer/Critic
Architecture Teacher
Art Activity Writer
Art Appraiser
Art Book Editor
Art Consultant
Art Coordinator
Art Critic
Art Dealer
Art Director

Art Distributor

Art Historian

Art Insurance Agent

Art Librarian

Art Magazine Editor

Art Researcher

Art Restorer

Art Specialist

Art Supervisor

Art Teacher

Art Teacher Assistant

Art Therapist

Artist in Residence

Artists’ Agent

Audio/Visual Designer

Automobile Designer

Background Artist (TV)

Bank Note Designer

Basket Maker

Block Engraver

Book Jacket Designer


Botanical Designer

Calendar Editor


Camera Operator

Candle Maker


Cartographer (mapmaker)



Children’s Book Illustrator


Comic Strip Artist

Commercial Photographer

Computer Graphic Artist

Conceptual Artist


Corporate Art Collector

Corporation Photographer

Costume Designer

Court Artist



Curriculum Writer (Art)

Design Consultant



Editorial Art Director

Editorial Illustrator


Environmental Artist

Environmental Designer

Environmental Planner

Equipment Designer

Exhibition Coordinator

Fabric Designer

Fashion Art Director

Fashion Consultant

Fashion Display Director

Fashion Editor/Writer

Fashion Illustrator

Fashion Merchandiser

Fashion Photographer

Faux Finish Specialist

Film Animator

Film Developer

Film Editor


Fine Art Photographer

Fine Artist

Floor Covering Designer

Floral Designer

Forensic Artist

Foundry Worker

Furniture Designer

Gallery Assistant

Gallery Director

Gallery Owner

Gallery Photographer

Gem Cutter

Glass Blower


Graphic Arts Technician

Greeting Card Designer

Hair Stylist Designer

Heavy Equipment Designer


Industrial Designer

Interior Decorator

Interior Designer

Jewelry Maker/Designer

Lace Maker

Landscape Designer

Law Enforcement Photographer

Lawyer with Art Specialty


Legal Photographer

Lighting Designer


Lithographic Photographer

Magazine Art Director

Magazine Photographer

Makeup Artist

Manufacturer of Art Materials

Manuscript Illuminator

Marine Architect

Master Printer

Medical Illustrator


Model Builder

Mold Maker

Movie Art Director

Movie Scene Painter

Mural Artist

Museum Curator

Museum Director

Museum Photographer

Museum Photographer

Musical Instrument Maker

Ornamental Metalwork Designer



Parade Float Designer


Photo Researcher

Photo Re-Toucher

Photo Stylist

Photofinisher Specialist


Photographic Engineer

Photography Teacher

Picture Framer


Playground Designer

Police/Court Artist

Portrait Painter or Photographer

Poster Artist


Press Photographer


Private Art Instructor

Product Designer

Product Illustrator

Product Photographer

Promotion Designer

Puppet Designers


Quick Sketch Artist

Retail Store Art Director

Rug Maker

Scenic Artist

School Photographer

Science Fiction Illustrator


Set Construction Worker
Showroom Manager
Sign Painter
Silk Screen Artist
Sketch Artist
Space Planner
Special Effects Artists
Sports Clothing Designer
Sports Equipment Designer
Stage Design
Stained Glass Maker
Stencil Illustrator
Storyboard Illustrator
Tapestry Worker
Tattoo Artist
Teachers Aide
Technical Illustrator 
Television Art Director
Television Graphic Artist
Text Book Illustrator
Textile Artist
Theatre Set Designer
Theme Park Designer
Tool Designer
Toy Designer
Video Artist
Wall Covering Designer
Transportation Designer
Wardrobe Staff
Web Site Designer
Window Display Designer
Wood Crafter
Workshop Coordinator